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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Marion Rarick (R)

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Legislative Update

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dear Neighbor,

On Friday, June 12, Governor Dayton called a special legislative session, allowing the legislature to come back and pass negotiated omnibus bills relating to education, jobs and energy, agriculture and environment, capital investment and legacy. While I am disappointed that the governor chose to veto a number of bipartisan bills late last month and force a special legislative session, I am pleased we were able to negotiate an agreement and complete our work. Overall, our new budget will result in a 5.3 percent increase in general fund spending—the third lowest increase in over 50 years.

First, the legislation that probably received the most attention was the education budget bill, which was vetoed over the governor's insistence to fund universal pre-kindergarten, a plan that was never vetted in either the House or Senate. In the end, he dropped that demand and state leaders agreed to a bill that increases education funding by $525 million (it was a $400 million increase in the vetoed bill), and raises the per pupil funding formula by 2 percent in both 2016 and 2017. This will give our school districts the flexibility to spend money where they choose, whether it's hiring more teachers, reducing class sizes or funding afterschool programs.

Additionally, this legislation expands school choice and will help close the achievement gap with a significant investment in early learning initiatives including targeted early learning scholarships, Head Start and school readiness aid.

In all, our bipartisan education bill increases funding by $359 per pupil for the Monticello and Maple Lake School Districts, and $392 for the Buffalo School District.

Next, the legislature repassed the agriculture and environment budget bill, which was also vetoed by the governor last month. Important provisions in that bill include $23 million to help combat avian flu, reforms to the Wetland Conservation Act and significant reforms to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and DNR.

The jobs and energy bill also repassed this session, with very few changes from the original bipartisan bill the governor recently vetoed. This legislation not only saves taxpayers money, spending $24 million less than last biennium, but it also includes funding for broadband grants, workforce housing and job training grants. It also requires additional legislative review of President Obama's Clean Power Plan. Last, this bill will cut ratepayer-funding handouts to special solar power interests with net metering reform. Net metering is basically the government forcing an energy company to purchase excess green energy from their customer, but not at wholesale, at the full retail rate. Then the costs shift to the rest of the rate payers, affecting the poor the most.

Finally, the legislature also repassed the legacy omnibus bill which did not pass the Senate before we adjourned on May 18, as well as a bonding bill that invests in avian flu emergency response, transportation needs, flood prevention, disaster relief and wastewater infrastructure improvements.

I am pleased we have finished our work for the people of Minnesota this session. I welcome your continued input and ideas on how we can make our great state even better.  

As always, please feel free to contact me about any state legislative issue. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 549 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.



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